This is an ongoing “Fruit of the Spirit” series featuring my past perspectives from December 2019 along with my present-day reflections in 2020. Check out my series intro, my first post about love, my second about joy, my third about peace, and now my next one on patience below.
Dean from December 2019
I am scared of considering patience right now.
My pastor recently made the point that when we ask God to teach us patience, He often lets us encounter a situation that requires patience so we can develop and utilize it.
I don’t think I want to learn about patience. Had I fully considered what this blog series would have entailed when I reached patience, I might not have started it to begin with.
If you want to see the ultimate test of patience, watch a child wait until Christmas Day to open his or her gifts. We’ve just passed the Christmas holiday as of this writing, and my daughter was true to her form this year.
Every day leading up to Christmas was a reminder that it’s not yet time to open her gifts. She begged to open her gifts. And any gift added to the tree was immediately claimed as hers — even when my wife and I clearly explained this was not the case.
As such, I have begun reminding my daughter every day that we should be patient. The first time I said this, when she was just a tot, she gave me an odd look. I have to admit it took me a moment to figure out that I needed to define “patience” for my little girl.
The best way I could phrase it for my daughter at the time was this: “Patience is waiting with kindness.”
Now, this definition was mostly motivated by my not wanting to deal with her pouting or screaming. But I do wonder if this is also something I need to embrace.
Maybe it’s not quite waiting with “kindness”; maybe waiting with “trust”? Waiting with “humility”? Even waiting with “love”?
Perhaps patience is waiting with the “fruit of the Spirit” — all of them, together.
Some days I wait for God to fulfill a promise. Some days I just wait for a reminder that God is still there.
Ultimately, though, I am waiting for God to bring all things to their culmination and glorification in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. I desire so greatly to be in heaven in the presence of my God and Savior.
Yet I still wait. And wait. Every day with a reminder of my imperfections through a fallen world, broken relationships, and a scarred gender identity.
Every day I long for Christ’s return. Is this how I live out patience as a queer man?
I wonder how my knowledge of patience will grow in 2020 . . .
Dean in July 2020
You know, somehow, even amidst pandemics, race wars, and job losses — patience hasn’t been that bad.
I wonder if, because peace was such an incredibly difficult lesson that persisted far too long, God gave me a new way to learn about patience.
Let’s briefly step back into the month of April — when I was still learning peace.
I was out of work, stuck at home, and looking at a blank calendar. May was supposed to be the start of everything, including a new job. My church had opened up a position, and I was first in line for it; however, they hadn’t expected a worldwide catastrophe during the hiring process.
As I looked at a permanently delayed job start and dwindling funds, I made a choice: I was going to wait with hope.
Ah yes, hope — hadn’t listed that one back in December. It’s not a fruit of the spirit — the only one of Paul’s “these three remain” that doesn’t make it onto his list in Galatians. I’ve always found that odd.
Why was hope left off? I know I wondered this as I wrote up thoughts on faithfulness back in December. I naively didn’t consider it with patience.
And yet it makes sense to pair hope with patience. Maybe that’s why Paul didn’t include hope outright.
Patience ultimately leads to hope.
Romans 5 says that trials lead to perseverance which ends in hope. How could I forget that?
So, back in April, I looked ahead with hope. I had hope that a job would arrive when I needed it. Hope that my bank account wouldn’t hit zero dollars. Hope that we wouldn’t all be stuck at home forever.
Ultimately, I had hope that Christ would be present in all our difficulties and bring healing, provision, and comfort through the power of the Spirit.
Honestly, I’m still going to tell my daughter to “wait with kindness” — at least until the pouting stops.
But as she grows older, I’m going to introduce this idea of waiting with hope. Because it’s ended up teaching me patience in a way like never before.
Praise God for learning about patience!
How do you learn and practice patience across all areas of your life? Does patience come naturally to you, or do you feel compelled to grow this particular fruit of the Spirit?
I think there’s a connection between patience and gratitude. If patience is looking ahead with hope and kindness, gratitude is looking back with the same fruits of the spirit. Likewise, I think there’s a similar dynamic between entitlement and disappointment. Entitlement is looking ahead with a lack of virtue, and disappointment is looking behind with a similar lack. This is why I think entitlement turns so easily to disappointment, but it also suggests that patience leads to gratitude.
I wonder, can you tell the difference without knowing the outcome?
To me, feeling entitled feels different from feeling patient.
Great observations, Ryan! I have been considering how gratitude interplays with all of this as well. There’s definitely more there to consider. 🙂
“Some days I wait for God to fulfill a promise. Some days I just wait for a reminder that God is still there.”
My favorite line from your post, Dean. Often I find myself merely yearning for a regular dose of the latter. Nothing miraculous, per se – just His presence, safe and assuring (though I don’t mind the occasional miracle).
The more I think of it, I sense many folks in the Side B world are quite a patient lot. We’ve learned to wait, trust, and wait and trust, and wait and trust some more. There’s a sense of spiritual maturity among many in this community directly flowing from this fruit of patience, and I’m so grateful to partake alongside and grow this fruit myself.
Grateful for your patience, brother.
I think our niche of the faith definitely leans heavily into patience and hope — we have to. If we don’t have a strong hope, we will struggle more than anyone else.
I definitely know I have been leaning into the reminder of God’s presence more and more as well. It can be tough but it provides a great comfort too.
Oh how the December 2019 version of you had no idea what levels or patience you would need in the coming year! It has been indeed pretty horrible, everything I was looking forward to this year is not happening. But yet I still have a choice to look forward with hope in spit of everything. It is hard, but we do have to have patience and wait.
Oh indeed, Eugene. 2019 Dean had quite the shock in store for him!! It is hard to wait patiently, hoping in what’s ahead. But it can help greatly with the waiting to lean in to that hope. Praying you find that hope strong in your own journey through 2020!
Yes, Eugene, the past two years have required a lot of patience for me, but the results are really good right now. Don’t give up!
One of my best friendships was being severely tested. I called him foul names. He often ignored me or said hurtful things of his own, but I did not run away. I sought to obey Jesus Christ when He said to pray for those who mistreat you and do good to them. As my friend and I both kept talking and refusing to run from each other, eventually God’s love broke through. We forgave each other then hugged, and I felt so much joy inside I nearly fainted. I am not exaggerating! Our friendship is probably stronger now than any other I have experienced!
[…] intro, my first post about love, my second about joy, my third about peace, my fourth about patience, my fifth about kindness, and now my next installment about goodness […]